NFL, NBA drafts rob players

Updated: April 16, 2010, 4:53 PM ET
By Peter Keating

The NFL draft is in one week, which means seven days from now, a whole new crop of young athletes is going to get ripped off.

You read that right. When the top overall pick -- whether it's Sam Bradford or Jimmy Clausen or whoever -- grasps hands with St. Louis Rams GM Billy Devaney and holds up a jersey, announcers and fans will buzz about his contract, which surely will be north of the $41.7 million and six years that Matthew Stafford got last year. And that's just how the league likes it: a lot of attention paid to -- and, make no mistake, quite a bit of resentment toward -- the best-paid rookies, and not much appreciation for the overall effect of the draft. Because while it promotes competitive balance only moderately well, "the draft does depress salaries," as economists David Berri and Rob Simmons wrote in the Journal of Productivity Analysis last year, citing half a dozen earlier research papers.